One of the great tragedies of ancient history, memorialized in myths and Hollywood film, is the burning of the great library at Alexandria. But the reality of the Library's end was actually a lot less pyrotechnic than that. A major cause of the Library's ruin was government budget cuts.
Google, who's been determinedly digitizing the world's books, thought it might be prudent to figure out just how many books are actually out there to begin with. They made a special algorithm, natch, and came up with 129,864,880.